France PM plans to ban 'unlawful' protests, violence

A protestor holds a placard reading

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Dettinger turned himself in on Monday, saying he was trying to defend himself and other demonstrators, though he acknowledged: "I reacted badly".

It follows the eighth straight weekend of violent demonstrations across France.

He said the government would support a new law to punish the organisers of unauthorised protests, banning known troublemakers from taking part and arresting demonstrators who turn up wearing masks to hide their identities.

French Sen. Bruno Retailleau welcomed the prime minister's announcement of the new legislative proposal, writing on Twitter that "hooded" troublemakers who took part in protests "must be severely punished".

The gilets jaunes (yellow vests) movement - named after the hi-vis jackets worn by protesters - began in November as a revolt against the imposition of a fuel tax, but has morphed into a nationwide movement against the government and the pro-business, centrist Macron, who is accused of favouring the rich and maintaining an unfair tax system.

Around 50,000 "yellow vest" protesters took to the streets again on Saturday to denounce Macron's policies, call for his resignation or demand more of a say in national law-making.

On Saturday, protestors in Paris smashed the gates to a government office and cars and motorbikes were set alight. Di Maio said Monday that his 5-Star Movement (M5S) was ready to provide support to the Yellow Vests while fellow Deputy Premier, Interior Minister and League party leader Matteo Salvini, also voiced his backing for the protests.

The man praised Dettinger, calling his actions against the police officers "honorable".

A protestor wears a yellow jacket reading

"Yellow vests, do not weaken!"

While the number of protesters has dwindled since the earliest demonstrations, a smaller but increasingly radical core seem determined to push on.

French police signaled a stricter approach last week when they arrested one of the leaders of the "yellow vests", truck driver Eric Drouet, for failing to notify authorities about a demonstration.

Nicolas Tenzer, a political commentator, essayist and former top civil servant, said on French TV that the country faced an "insurrectionist movement driven by the extreme right and left", which has adopted violence as a natural element of its combat. Di Maio wrote in a post on his party's blog.

French President Emmanuel Macron's approval rating now stands at 28 percent, improving by five points in a month and marking the first improvement in ratings since the start of the nationwide yellow vest protests in November, an Ifop-Fiducial poll showed.

"Yellow vests, do not weaken!"

The spat between the two countries threatens to worsen European Union political and economic divisions as each country exploits the other's political and socio-economic tensions while underscoring the increasingly sour relations between Paris and Rome.

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